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Quotas needed to increase the number of women on boards

Published: Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today (30.07.18) welcomed the launch of the Government’s ‘Better Balance for Better Business’ initiative: an independent business-led review group of gender balance in governance and senior management in business. This review was a commitment in the National Strategy for Women and Girls 2017-2020.

NWCI has called for gender quotas to be part of this review and any action plan to address gender imbalance in corporate leadership that will follow.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said:

“Women comprise just 18% of membership on company boards on the ISEQ20 index. While this number is increasing, the pace of change is agonisingly slow, and Ireland is behind the European average of 26%. Government and businesses must take specific and targeted measures to increase the number of women on boards, and these should include a gender quota. Quotas are a blunt tool, but they have real merit as a mechanism for accelerating the pace of change, and would increase the numbers of women on boards in a timely manner.”

‘‘If the Government is serious about creating timely change then quotas must be a key part of any action plan for increasing the number of women in corporate leadership positions. We have seen the positive effect that quotas have had in politics for example where the number of women TDs went from 15% to 22% in one election cycle. On state boards, change without a quota has been snail-like in pace. NWCI welcomes the progress made on state boards where women now represent 40.6% of directors but it has taken 25 years to meet this target of 40% that was first introduced in 1993.’’

Laura Harmon, NWCI Leadership Officer said:

“NWCI launched our ‘Better Boards, Better Business, Better Society’ report in 2015 calling for gender quotas to be introduced as part of a larger strategy to tackle board requirements. Diversity is good for business. Boards comprised of people from a variety of backgrounds and ages make better decisions for their customers, shareholders and society at large. There is a real social imperative for Irish companies, CEOs and the Government to address this gender balance.’’

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For more information, please contact Laura Harmon, NWCI on 0861738455.